Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Free Trade Betrayed

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Free Trade Betrayed

Article excerpt

Economist Jagdish Bhagwati of Columbia University has been one of the most visible and resolute intellectual advocates for free-market globalization, but lately he sounds a lot like Lori Wallach, the brainy lawyer who leads Global Trade Watch. "The process of trade liberalization is becoming a sham," Bhagwati wrote recently in the Financial Times, "the ultimate objective being the capture, reshaping and distortion of the [World Trade Organization] in the image of American lobbying interests."

Wallach and other leaders of worldwide popular dissent have been making the same argument about bait-and-switch diplomacy for a decade. "Oh, absolutely," Bhagwati exclaims. "People like Lori Wallach are right." The multinational corporate interests essentially hijacked the pure "free trade" principles Bhagwati espouses and turned "free-trade agreements" into their own agenda for a densely layered legal code--investment rules that impose a straitjacket of do's and don'ts on developing-country governments.

The rights of foreign capital and corporations are to be expanded; the rights of sovereign nations to decide their own development strategies steadily eliminated. A country must not require multinationals to form joint ventures with domestic enterprises. …

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